South Central Washington STEM Network

The South Central Washington STEM Network, co-directed by Mark Cheney and Hugo Moreno, spans Yakima and Kittitas counties and parts of Klickitat and Grant counties, as well as several school districts located on the Yakama Nation Reservation.

South Central Washington STEM Network

The South Central Washington STEM Network, co-directed by Mark Cheney and Hugo Moreno, spans Yakima and Kittitas counties and parts of Klickitat and Grant counties, as well as several school districts located on the Yakama Nation Reservation.
Backbone Organization:
ESD 105
Mark Cheney
Co-Director, South Central Washington STEM Network


The South Central Washington STEM Network works to:

  • Help develop the amazing possibilities for our area’s current educational offerings and future employment growth
  • Help break the cycle of poverty by introducing students to STEM careers – a field calling for a skilled workforce with the rewards of jobs that are high demand and pay good wages
  • Keep our talent local by building the skills in our young people that will raise academic achievement and support the new and growing businesses that will be needed in the future of South Central Washington’s communities

STEM by the Numbers

Washington STEM’s annual STEM by the Numbers reports let us know if the system is supporting more students, especially students of color, students living in poverty and/or rural backgrounds, and young women, to be on track to attain high-demand credentials.

View the South Central regional STEM by the Numbers report here.

Programs + Impact


During a time when K-12 students are utilizing a Learning Management System to access virtual learning opportunities, students in the most rural districts in the ESD 105 region will have the opportunity to participate in Career Exploration through Virtual Job Shadow, a program developed by our STEM network. Using a virtual platform, students complete an interest driven inventory, explore careers they are curious about, check video interviews with professionals to learn about the career, investigate labor market data, explore salary range, and locate institutions where required credentials are offered. Beginning in early 2021, approximately 1,600 rural students will have access to the high-quality Career Exploration platform.


What could be better for a 17-29 year old youth than to engage in a Career Launch opportunity that provides high school and or college credit, hands-on learning directly related to their chosen career path, and to engage in on-the-job training under the supervision of a caring adult mentor? Welcome to the world of youth apprenticeship! In 2019, regional partners in the South Central Washington STEM Network region began working with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) to implement the Automation Technician apprenticeship program. Apprentices in this program learn all the skills necessary for a career in Industrial Maintenance. What started small, with only 3 apprentices in the fall of 2019 has grown to over 30 apprentices in just over one year! Responding to the request of the business community in South Central Washington, and building on the success of the Automation Technician apprenticeship, AJAC in partnership with other regional stakeholders, will begin the implementation of the newly approved Machine Operator apprenticeship designed to meet the needs of the Food Processing industry. Local companies like Del Monte, Ostrom Mushroom Farms, Washington Beef, and the Washington State Tree Fruit Association have been instrumental in the development process.


The South Central STEM Network has built regional capacity to support children from low income families, families of color, and rural areas in their early math preparation through investments in two areas: professional development for instructional coaches, teachers, and teacher aids; and family engagement. The Early Math Innovations Project implemented a Studio Cycle strategy to train and support the coaches and teachers in Head Start and Migrant Head Start classrooms in the ESD 105 and ESD 171 regions. Math coaches and teachers are trained through a year-long effort to develop understanding of math concepts, community engagement, and building math confidence. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to host 3 in-person Family Nights from our pilot site at the Blossoms Early Learning Center. Approximately 50 family members attended each of the nights for a total of 150 families served.


The immediate need for equitable access to earning a postsecondary credential, especially for populations furthest from opportunity, is highly dependent upon FAFSA/WASFA completion. Yet, students from poverty, students of color, and students from remote and rural areas have significantly lower FAFSA completion rates. This is a glaring example of inequity and we are part of a statewide effort to close this gap. The South Central STEM Network partnered with the College Success Foundation (CSF), WA Gear Up, Washington Student Achievement Council and local colleges to co-host 8 regional financial aid awareness events in November and December. The events were provided in English and Spanish, and held at multiple accessible time slots to meet the needs of the region.

STEM STORIES See All Stories
Earth-to-Space: It's the West Sound STEM Network
On December 12 1,000 students from the West Sound STEM Network spoke with NASA astronauts living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station.
Inslee awards $6 million to create apprenticeship and career connections for 29,000 youth in 11 communities
STEM learning experiences, job shadows, career planning, internships, and apprenticeships become available thanks to new Career Connect Washington grant funding.
Kaiser Permanente: Supporting STEM, Educating Our Future Health Care Workforce
Susan Mullaney, President of Kaiser Permanente Washington, speaks on the importance of equality in STEM education and the positive impact it has on health care workforce development at the 2017 Washington STEM Summit at Microsoft.
STEM Like ME! introduces students to real STEM
Inspiring students to pursue careers in engineering starts in the classroom. STEM Like ME! empowers teachers to introduce STEM professionals into the classroom to educate students about what careers are available to them.
You can help Washington students get a great STEM education.
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